What I Did
This novel by Christopher Waking is right up there amongst my empathic favourites. Narrated by a six year-old boy, the story opens with the boy sitting on the stairs at home, shoes in his hands, while his father shouts at him for taking so long to come down, since they are on their way out to the park. What we discover, by being immersed inside the boy's head, is that he is taking his time not to annoy his father, but because he is in the process of conducting an intricate scientific experiment about how friction operates to prevent his backside from sliding down the stairs. It made me laugh, but it also gave me an insight into my own four-year-old son. I suddenly understood that many of his infuriating habits – such as pouring his drinks from one glass into another and back again, often making a huge mess – could well be similar experiments that I should probably encourage rather than quash. The novel helped me recognise that I was not making enough effort to discover what was going on in his mind.
The book is darkly comic and fantastically written. It’s a hard one to put down once you’ve opened its pages.